What if Howard Hughes ruled his corporate empire from a chrome-and-glass citadel, served by problem gamblers who've been enslaved so they can pay off their debts? Louse is only partly the answer to that question. It's also a deft piece of corporate satire, an Orwellian fable about absolute power, even a kind of religious allegory.
Author David Grand's remarkable first novel follows Herman Q. Louse, valet to the invalid, germ-phobic billionaire Herbert Horatio Blackwell, as he navigates the conspiracy-ridden world Blackwell has constructed in the middle of the Nevada desert. Louse's story is interspersed with snippets of memos, bulletins, press releases, and public confessions - Grand's modern version of groupthink - all of which provide a darkly comic counterpoint to the novel's growing intrigue.
There are more twists and turns in this book than in your average Hollywood thriller, yet somehow the plot - as well-oiled as it is - becomes hardly the point. Louse is a chilling look at the fate of the individual in a collectivized world, as appropriate to today's corporate drones as to the denizens of Orwell's 1984.
©1998, 2011 David Grand (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
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